A dynamic YA series entry that continues to combine realistic adolescent issues with imaginative, magic-based fantasy.


From the The Virus of Beauty series , Vol. 2

A young wizard faces magical repercussions after he heroically helps some witches in this YA fantasy sequel.

In the first book of this lively series, fledgling wizard Wilf Gilvary, a soccer-playing teenager in Hong Kong, used newfound powers to cure witches of a magic-killing virus. Unfortunately, the magical Veil, a spell separating the witch and wizard domains, was corrupted in the process. Now, the Council of Wizards expects its witchy counterparts, newly headquartered in the Hong Kong store formerly owned by Wilf’s father, to turn Wilf over to them to undo the damage. The wild ride that ensues in the crumbling Magical Realms encompasses the protagonist’s changing relationship with young witch Katryna Wakefield; his eerie, seemingly impossible connection with the Guardian of the Veil; his fugitive stepsister, Myra Picton; and chilling experiments by Katryna’s wizard father and his assistant, Malik, to create an alternative to the Veil in the “normal” world. Lyall skillfully juggles each fantastical plot point while shifting perspectives between Wilf and Myra. Along the way, the author never loses sight of the grounding, real-world dilemmas faced by her characters, including addiction, betrayal, gender conflicts, and, significantly, the issue of consent when Malik forces Myra to bond with him using a magic bracelet. Throughout, Wilf continues to struggle with his identity as a wizard, which he’d never sought for himself: “He had never thought of magic as surrounding him before….He had thought he could escape, walk through a door, and exit this life. But that wasn’t true. His every breath was touched with magic.” The novel ends with a suspenseful teaser of what’s to come in the next installment.

A dynamic YA series entry that continues to combine realistic adolescent issues with imaginative, magic-based fantasy.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73600-272-8

Page Count: 201

Publisher: Hazel Publishing Company, LLC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.


An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A different kind of fairy tale, for older and wiser readers.


Disney adaptations are familiar, but this title marks a new gambit: a novel sequel that accepts the source movie, Brave, as canon.

Merida, now nearly 20, has negotiated a truce with her mother (they never talk about betrothals or marriage) and traveled the kingdom learning new things. But little has changed otherwise: The triplets are still a force of chaos, Merida prefers archery to embroidery, the kingdom is at peace, and magic is at rest. That is, until Feradach, the god who brings ruin in order to make room for growth, threatens to destroy everything Merida loves unless she can change her family enough to end their stagnation. This is still clearly a fairy-tale world, but Stiefvater’s understanding of medieval history (briefly detailed in the author’s note) grounds it, as does the very believable nature of Merida’s conflict: Saving what she loves means transforming it beyond what she knows. The episodic structure as Merida takes on three journeys, each with different family members, moves more slowly than the movie, but the depth of characterization—as shown in Feradach and Queen Elinor in particular—is nuanced and noteworthy. Readers who spent their childhoods watching Merida engage with magic will readily fall under her spell again as she negotiates the hardest challenge of all: growing up. All characters are assumed White.

A different kind of fairy tale, for older and wiser readers. (Historical fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-07134-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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